Masks currently optional on Vail Mountain as gondolas loaded to full capacity | VailDaily.com
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Masks currently optional on Vail Mountain as gondolas loaded to full capacity

Some skiers are still avoiding face coverings, but many are choosing to wear them while coronavirus case counts spike in Eagle County

A sign outside Bart and Yeti’s restaurant in Lionshead Village reminds guests about Eagle County’s mask mandate. Masks are required in indoor spaces but not on gondolas or inside the gondola terminal.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

If local barkeep and restaurateur Kevin Foley could ask anything of his guests, it would be “for everyone to be a little more patient,” Foley said Sunday as snow fell hard in Lionshead Village.

Foley, a longtime public servant on the Vail Town Council, owns and operates Bart and Yeti’s restaurant with his brother Dennis Foley. The Lionshead Village staple is a place guests can enjoy the part of skiing their legs have been looking forward to all day: après-ski.

“It’s our first day back, and we love seeing the snow,” Foley said on Sunday. “That’s our job security.”



The other part of that job security involves having a healthy staff, Foley said, which is why the popular Lionshead Village restaurant and watering hole wasn’t operating on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year.

“We were closed Friday and Saturday, so we could try to get our staff healthy and give them some time with their families,” Foley said.



When they reopened, Dennis was cooking, and Kevin was working the floor. Employees who were sick were told to remain home.

‘Omicrondola’

With the latest COVID-19 variant omicron spreading fast in Eagle County, many are asking what they can do to reduce spread.

“More patience with wearing the masks would be amazing,” Foley said.

Foley said the mask policy at Bart and Yeti’s is being strictly observed.

“No mask, no service,” reads the sign outside the establishment.

It’s a departure in policy from the nearby Lionshead gondola, where the sign reads, “Gondolas are loading to full capacity.”

A sign outside the Lionshead gondola Sunday reminds guests that gondolas are being loaded to full capacity this season.
John LaConte / Vail Daily

Face coverings were optional as of Sunday on the gondola and inside the gondola terminal. Many guests were choosing to wear masks as gondola cars were loaded to capacity over the holiday weekend.

Eagle County instituted a mask mandate for indoor spaces last week as its incident rate is currently the highest in the state, along with Pitkin, Summit County and San Juan counties. Eagle County had recorded more than 1,400 cases in its weekly case incidence report as of Sunday.

The county, in its latest public health order, includes all enclosed indoor areas — except for a person’s residence — in its definition of a public indoor space where masks will be required.

“’Public Indoor Space’ means any enclosed indoor area that is publicly or privately owned, managed, or operated, to which individuals have access by right or by invitation, expressed or implied; or that is accessible to the public, serves as a place of employment, or is a location where services are provided,“ the order states.

Vail Mountain, on its website, says face coverings are not required on gondolas, chairlifts or open tents unless required by local public health.

As of Sunday, Vail Mountain employees were not requiring guests to wear face coverings in the gondola terminal and gondola cars.

A look at the lift line outside the Eagle Bahn Gondola on Sunday. Guests were not being asked to wear face coverings, but many were choosing to mask up as Eagle County has seen an influx of coronavirus cases amid a wave of visitors over the holiday.
John LaConte / Vail Daily

Vaccinations are not required to ski Vail, but vaccinations are required to access cafeteria-style dining establishments where crowds gather.

Vail resident Chris Mech, in a letter to the Vail Daily, used the play on words “Omicrondola” to emphasize his distaste for the situation. The Eagle Bahn Gondola is lift No. 19 at Vail.

“So let me get this straight: I need a reservation, a mask and a vaccine passport to buy a cheeseburger on Vail Mountain. But I can go, unvaccinated, into the most confined place in Eagle County with nine unmasked, unvaccinated strangers? Where is that? ‘Corondola-19’ of course! (Or, to be more timely, how about ‘Omicrondola?’),” Mech wrote.

When asked if people should wear face coverings on the gondola, Foley said “yes,” whether the resort requires it or not.

“Absolutely,” Foley said in reply. “Wear your mask.”


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